New Tom Petty album rocks Catholic church on abuse

Step aside, Mary Jane.

Tom Petty is dancing with the Catholic church in his next album “Hypnotic Eye.”

In new song titled “Playing Dumb,” famed rocker Petty and his band the Heartbreakers -- who together have produced classics such as “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” “Free Fallin’” and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” -- address their outrage with the church’s decade-long abuse scandal.

“For every confession that wasn’t on the level/For every man of God that lives with hidden devils,” Petty sings at one point.

“Playing Dumb” does not appear among the album’s 11 main tracks, but is included as a bonus song on Blu-Ray and vinyl editions.

In an interview with Billboard magazine, Petty said he did not intend to attack Catholics or religion in general. But the abuse scandal, however, has left him seeing it difficult for people to maintain their faith.

“If I was in a club, and I found out that there had been generations of people abusing children, and then that club was covering that up, I would quit the club. And I wouldn't give them any more money,” he told the magazine.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Petty and the Heartbreakers began working on the album three years ago, and it's possible Petty was influenced by recent events in the local Los Angeles abuse scandal, as his band has called southern California home for much of its nearly four decades. In 2007, the L.A. archdiocese agreed to the largest abuse settlement in U.S. history -- $660 million -- and in 2013, 12,000 pages of documents detailed the extent it went to shield abusive priests.

In other tracks, Petty thrashes additional injustices he perceives, including corruption and economic inequality. He told Billboard that a power-hungry attitude leads to a loss of morals, creates dangerous people and “is what, to me, wipes out the middle class.”

The album releases July 29.

[Brian Roewe is an NCR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter: @BrianRoewe.]

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